Whilst we’re in the season of Piemonte, with the competition and everything, I thought I’d continue with a kind of Piemonte 101. As we heard from last time, Piemonte’s up in the North West of Italy, in that little bit in between France, Switzerland, and the sea. Directly translated to “the foot of the mountains” it’s where the alps calm down a bit and the hills start.
We’re closing in towards the end of the competition we’re running to give away a Lazenne WineCheck of 12 bottles of amazing Piemontese wines. This week it’s time to highlight the work and wines of our penultimate winemaker, Fabrizio Francone from Neive, whose vineyards are a great place to tour and taste great wines!
Last weekend my sister got married. Did we ever think we’d see the day? 🙂 Only kidding, of course we did, and I’m lucky that the fella in question is a top guy and we’re all very happy to welcome him into the family. Especially after the two of the sorted us out with the best wedding meal I’ve ever had!
For quite a while now I’ve heard Aussie’s banging on about sparkling Shiraz. For those of you who’ve never tried it, I do mean Shiraz, the red wine grape that makes all those massive Rhône classics under the French name Syrah. Not sure why I picked out France in particular, it makes huge wines all over the world. In Australia though, they’ve been messing around with bubbles and struck upon liquid gold!
I had this one pretty early on in the week, as a good mate of mine, Ben, popped over after work to have a catch up. The perfect guinea pig cos he’ll eat and drink most things that are put in front of him, and is always happy to let us know what he thinks (in a good way Ben, I mean that in a good way!).
So we had the Nostro Meglio Barabera D’Asti Superiore from Morrison’s, which was £9.79.
(Apologies in advance, bit of a long one this one. Basically it’s just 1 big recipe and a couple of little ones with it, so here it goes…)
Whenever I think about Italian red wines, I guess I just head straight for my comfort zone. That means thick, tomato-based stews, and ragu. I’m slowly getting better at them (I think). So I’ll give you a quick recipe for one of those. My good mate Paolo (a Piemontese native) though kind of looked at me a bit funny when I told him. He’s given me something else that the foodies out there amoungst you might want to have a go at.
As we’ve been saying in the last couple of posts Barbera does alright on most soils and slopes, but that’s not to say it doesn’t change in terms of the taste and drinkability (I thought I’d just made up a word, but spell checker hasn’t even blinked!) depending on where it’s grown.
The two more famous styles, that I know of anyway, are Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba. These are separate zones where the vineyards need to sit in the outskirts of the major local towns of Asti and Alba. Chances are you’ll have heard of these.
Barbera is a red grape mostly associated with Piemonte. Barbera as a grape has a couple of things going for it. Firstly it’s relatively easy to grow in most places, and secondly you can mess about with it in the cellar to produce a few different styles.
When I say easy to grow in most places, it means it’s an ideal red grape for the average wine grower to produce year on year without much fuss. These are the guys that have had a vineyard plot passed down through the years and they grow the grapes and sell them to a co-op who turn the grapes into wine. This is a very popular way of doing things in Italy, and most co-ops in Piemonte produce lots of Barbera based wines.
For people who like to pop into the supermarket and pick up a bottle or two of wine every now and again, Italian wines will be no stranger to them. There’s the famous idea of Tuscany, the home of the ever-present Chianti. There’s Sicily, whose marketing co-ops have thrust their solid wines onto the £5 a bottle shelves. You think of Pinot Grigio, you might even think of Soave, but until you’ve been introduced to it, very few people think about Piemonte.
Here we are at week 4 already!
So we’ve gone for a couple of new world (roughly speaking that means non-european) wines so far, and one from the old world. We’ve had a couple of whites, and just the one red. So just to even it all up it’s an old world red, and this week I’ve chosen a grape variety called Barbera from Italy.
Barbera as a grape is grown in the north west of Italy in a region called Piemonte. Any of you who know your maps know this is right up in the top left, with Torino as the region’s capital.